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April 2006 RVC Column

(Written and posted 3/5/06)

Northwest Passages

RVC Column for April Newsletters in Region 8
by John Recht, Region 8 RVC

When I joined Mensa, I listed coin collecting as one of my interests on the Personal Data Questionnaire. Although I have enjoyed collecting coins since I was a child, and remain active as a collector to this day, coin collecting then and now actually represented only a small segment of what I would have to admit is my collecting mania. There seems to me no other way to describe my penchant for accumulating baseball cards, vinyl records and CDs, books, maps, camera equipment, cookie tins, matchbooks, postcards, buttons, board games, squirt guns, t-shirts, ties, New Orleans Jazz Festival posters, copies of the Mensa Bulletin (I have them all back to November, 1977), and more other stuff than I care to list.

So what does all this hoarding behavior actually do for me? It gives me pleasure to have these items and to feel the connections they represent for all sorts of activities I have engaged in, and for the people who have been a part of my life. Many of these objects are beautiful or interesting or nostalgic to me. But as I go along in my life, I am well aware that many of these items will not be much of interest or significance to anyone else, and I have seen first hand what happens to collections similar to mine when the time comes to pass them along. Much simply gets discarded, and it's a big chore for those who need to deal with it. Plus, the truly valuable and interesting items are not necessarily recognized when included in a massive accumulation of what I will call junk.

Some of my fellow Mensans have reached a point in their lives where they feel the urge to divest themselves of some of their stuff, and I have had the opportunity to help them in the past year by going on eBay and selling items for them. It's been fun, and by sticking mainly with my special interest in coins, I have had a good deal of success. I have sold some of my own things as well, and I expect to do more of this as time goes on, as I am in a much better position to recognize and obtain a fair return for items in my collections than my loved ones would likely be if they felt the need to dispose of my legacy en masse.

If what I have just described about collecting and divesting is especially meaningful to you, I would like to suggest something. As you look around your home, if you see that you have collections, or simply accumulations of stuff that you do not truly need or want, perhaps you could simplify your life by going through your stuff and donating it to someone who could use it. In particular, I would like you to consider donating to MERF or to Mensa; I have championed the idea for some time of having garage sales throughout the region to benefit our scholarship funds and/or our local groups, and I would very much like to hear that there are garage sales for this purpose popping up all over the region as we enter the season for them. This is something we can do in every community, and it seems to me an ideal task for Area Coordinators to manage in our local groups; or, perhaps your group would like to appoint a Garage Sale Coordinator. Either way, it could be fun for you, profitable for your local group, and great publicity for Mensa, especially by letting the general public know that Mensa is raising money for scholarships to students in your area. And, it will help you clean out your closets!


Before I close, I want to thank all the folks who participated in the Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) in Sacramento over the weekend of February 24-26. Assistant RVC and Sacramento Regional Mensa LocSec Debra Reiger did a splendid job of coordinating the event, and it was a great success. I invite you to read more about it in my blog on www.johnrecht.com. As I write this, plans are already underway for the next LDW in Region 8, in Portland, OR, over the weekend of February 23-25, 2007. Also of note, we are fast approaching the 2006 Mind Games in Portland on April 21-23, 2006. At the rate we are attracting registrations it is likely sold out by now, but you are welcome to go to http://mindgames.us.mensa.org and either register or get onto the waiting list in case there are last minute cancellations. Please also keep in mind the Oregon Mensa RG on April 28-30 (more info at www.oregon.us.mensa.org), the World Gathering in Orlando, FL, on August 8-13 (more info at www.wg06.us.mensa.org), and Colloquium 2006: Revolution in Cosmology in Albany, NY, on October 6-8 (more info at www.colloquium.us.mensa.org). There are so many opportunities to take advantage of your Mensa membership, and I hope to see you at any or all of the above events. I know I'll be there.